Parochial school teacher fired for violating Church doctrine; awarded $2 million in damages

We’ve noted for a while, under the rubric “you will be made to care,” the fact that people of faith no longer have the ability to ignore the culture and live their faith unmolested. This is not an accident. It is a deliberate policy of the Obama administration which has reached back into history to the administration of another socialist president, Franklin Roosevelt, for guidance and substituted “freedom of worship” for “freedom of religion.” This is more than a semantic difference. Worship is generally confined to one’s home or church. Religion is a part of your character and should form you actions and interactions. Wedding photographers, bakers, and bed and breakfast hosts have been among the first to feel the pain inflicted by a regulatory state harnessed to a hostility to religion.


Now from Indiana:

A federal grand jury decided the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend will have to pay out nearly $2 million to a teacher it fired for violating the morals clause of her contract, by using artificial means to get pregnant.

The jury found the diocese guilty of violating the Civil Rights Act as a result of its decision to uphold its Catholic identity by enforcing the morals clause, which applies to all teachers working in diocesan schools.

The jury of five women and seven men deliberated five and a half hours Dec. 19 before announcing that the Indiana diocese unlawfully discriminated against Emily Herx on the basis of her sex, when they declined to renew her contract in June 2011.

Agree or not, there are two salient facts here. First, that the Catholic Church teaches that in vitro fertilization is a grave moral wrong:

2376 Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child’s right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses’ “right to become a father and a mother only through each other.”167

2377 Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that “entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children.”168 “Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses’ union . . . . Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person.”169

2378 A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The “supreme gift of marriage” is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged “right to a child” would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right “to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,” and “the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.”170

2379 The Gospel shows that physical sterility is not an absolute evil. Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord’s Cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give expression to their generosity by adopting abandoned children or performing demanding services for others.


Secondly, this is hardly secret information… though the trial record indicates a bonejarring level of ignorance on all parties.

Back to the case:

In the contract Herx signed, it stated, ”Acknowledging and accepting the religious and moral nature of the Church’s teaching mission, the undersigned agrees to conduct herself or himself at all times, professionally and personally, in accordance with the episcopal teaching authority, law and governance of the Church in this Diocese.”

It adds that the “bishop or his designee” are ultimately responsible for resolving “charges of immoral behavior or of conduct violative of the Teachings of the Church.”

The case is complicated by the fact that Herx was fired after her second round of IVF treatments. According to court documents, Herx informed the school’s principal, Sandra Guffey, in March 2010 during the first round of treatment — part of which was paid for by the diocese’s health plan — and her contract was renewed. Guffey registered no objections at the time, explaining during the trial that she had been unaware of the Church’s teaching on IVF, and only learned it reading a magazine a year later.

Herx underwent a second IVF round in April 2011. Guffey, now aware of the Church’s teaching, then related Herx’s IVF treatments to St. Vincent de Paul’s pastor, who asked the diocese for guidance.

The pastor, Father John Kuzmich, related in trial that he fired Herx after she had been informed that IVF was a “grave, immoral” violation of the Church’s teachings on the dignity of the human person. She decided to go through with IVF anyway, and that sealed the decision not to renew her contract for the 2011-2012 school year.


The case should have been clear cut. Even though the school principal was blindingly ignorant of Catholic teaching (which calls into question the value of a Catholic education) at some point she was made aware of it. The teacher in question knew her actions violated her contract and went through with it. She was not dismissed, she simply wasn’t rehired. And now she has hit the jackpot.

Now the diocese will have to decide whether to pay a settlement that is equivalent to near 10% of its assets to an employ that willfully violated her employment contract and persisted in that violation after being warned.. or to appeal.







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